Finding the right designer for your book cover is like finding the right designer for your clothes. You want someone to design your book who connects with you, understands what you want, and who is talented in the style you want your book to convey. No matter how talented or creative, not every cover designer is able to provide you with a book cover that has you gushing with praise. There are many factors, some of which don’t have anything to do with graphic design, that will impact your relationship with a cover designer and the results you’ll get from their efforts.
There are some specific things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a book cover designer, and they are all important factors that could affect the delivery and design of your book cover. When you’re interviewing a book cover designer, pay attention to the following details and find a cover designer who is best suited for the results you want.
1. Examples of previous book covers. Peruse the designer’s website and ask to see examples of different cover designs they have created. Pay attention to the style … is it professional, edgy, conservation, bold, soft and fluffy, soothing, or helter skelter? Are the color schemes appealing? Are both the title and author’s names clearly visible? Does it have a clean look or is it tightly cramped with loads of pictures or words? A good cover designer is a marketing expert who knows how to present a book cover that is attractive and captures attention. Your book can be phenomenal on the inside, but the words and message won’t mean anything if the cover is unprofessional or doesn’t mirror the author’s style or tone. Find a designer whose style closely mirrors yours and you’ll be more likely to be happy with his or her services.
2. How does the cover designer communicate? What is the preferred mode of communication? Will you have to convey your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions via email, or will you hash out your preferences and brainstorm over the telephone? What is the waiting time for responses and inquiries? What is your initial opinion after talking with the designer for the first time? Does he or she communicate in a professional manner? Are they cordial? Do they freely offer their own ideas and concepts, with relevant information to support it? Did the designer sound serious about his trade and treat you and your project with respect? Good communication is vital if you want a book cover that pleases you and integrates your style, tone, and wishes. If you suspect a communication gap, this might not be the designer for you.
3. Experience. Creating a book cover is an art form. It integrates color, text, and pictures in a unique way to express the personality and content of you and your book. For this reason, most book cover designers are versed in marketing and promotional copy, as well. Ask to see any samples of book covers and promo materials the designer has created. Ask if they are familiar with the technical specifications of designing a cover suitable for print. Inexperienced designers may have difficulty integrating the specifications required by printers for trim, bleed, spine width, and appropriate placement of text, photos, and bar codes.
4. Price. Of course, budget is always an issue, but sometimes, you do get what you pay for. It’s also true that there are experienced talented designers who offer competitive rates, just as there are unqualified do-it-yourselfer, wannabe designers who overcharge for mediocre services. A good rule of thumb is not to hire the least expensive cover designer you can find, but rather to seek to find the best cover designer that you can afford. Again, request samples of book covers they have already designed to be sure they have the skills and experience you’re seeking.
5. Schedule. When does the cover designer work? Is this a hobby or a full-time job for them? Do they do graphic design on the side, on the weekends or during the evenings, in addition to their full-time job? While these factors may not affect the way your book cover looks, they could affect your timeline, the turnaround time for revisions, or your ability to communicate.
6. You. You might be the single most important component in being happy with the services provided by your book cover designer. A book cover designer cannot provide you with a book cover that will make you happy if you don’t tell the designer what you want. The more detail you provide, the better. Without your input, suggestions, wishes, and feedback, a designer must rely on guesswork and his ideas, rather than yours, to create your book cover. As a result, you can be unhappy with the work, and the designer can find himself having to start over from scratch … numerous times. Don’t frustrate your cover designer. Work with him or her. Be open about what you do want … and what you don’t want. If you don’t know what you want, spend some time browsing through bookstores or online (try Amazon.com), finding book covers that resonate with and appeal to you. Share those images with the cover designer so he/she knows where to begin or which direction to follow. It’s the best way to make sure you are on the same page and that you’ll both be happy with the final product and the relationship that you’ve established.